Entitlement is at an all time high. In fact, sociologists worry that we are creating a generation of narcissists.
What is the cure for entitlement? Gratitude.
The recognition that all we have has been given to us. We are not “owed” anything. Our creator, God is the reason we exist and have what we do. Even what we have made or accomplished has been through the life, breath, gifting, and providence of God.
While this is completely at odds with the American vision of the self-made man and woman, it is thoroughly biblical. Here is how the psalmist put it:
“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100)
In a Time magazine article, Rick Warren helps us make an important distinction:
“And yet the Bible tells us ‘Give thanks IN ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ The key is the word ‘in.’ God doesn’t expect me to be thankful FOR all circumstance, but IN all circumstances. There’s a huge difference. The first attitude is masochism. The second shows maturity. We’re not supposed to be thankful for evil or sin, or the innocent suffering caused by these things. But even in heartache and grief and disappointment, there are still good things that I can be thankful for.”
C.S. Lewis captures it this way:
“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”
But let’s be honest; it’s hard to put selfishness to death. It’s hard to stop comparing ourselves to everyone else and wanting what we don’t have. But this is a key mark of spiritual maturity.
We can only break free from the spell of entitlement with the power of gratitude. This thanksgiving, be grateful out loud and on purpose for friends and family to hear. Sometimes we all need a little help to wake up to the many blessings we take for granted.
Looking back on this past year, for what are you most grateful?